Saturday 25 March 2017

Clipping up

Just when we needed a maximum gang to throw itself at the 4 - 5000 clips that need inserting, along came a Telehandler refresher course. While three of us had the pleasure of a video and some practice in the Winchcombe yard, a reduced gang of 11 set off for Laverton with vast piles of clips and 'biscuits' in the back of the Landie.

It's a long walk from the road to the work site, which today began virtually at the stop board of the running line. A long way to go. Here we are at the foot crossing and the southern anchor point.

We split into two gangs, one starting from the south, the other from the pulling point at Laverton bridge.

It would be nice to meet somewhere in the middle, but at the start it was slow work, before we found our rhythm.

This rhythm was achieved by breaking into little sub gangs, each with their own purpose.

Here Tony is preparing the biscuits and clips, while Mike no longer has to bend down each time, and can remain standing while he hammers in the clips from above.

Various things are designed to interupt smooth progress. Here it is a foot crossing, which is equipped with timbers and Pandrol clips, instead of concretes and SHC clips.

Did we remember to bring the Pan Pullers? Yes.

Did we remember to bring a few spare Pandrol clips? Er, no.

Never mind, we can get them at lunch time.
Steve gives the Pan puller a big heave, while a service DMU sneaks up from behind, on the running section, which ends at the stop board beyond the gang.

Look behind you, Bert !
Before you reach for your pens, the DMU had stopped already, and was on the other side of the stop board on the right. No worries.

We got regular visits fom the DMU, but we gradually worked our way away from it.

In this picture we have already done several lengths, fully clipped up.

Pausing for a break, we debate the supply of materials. We need more of everything really. Two of the southern team spent most of the day laying out 'biscuits' and clips along our side of the length, so that the stillage in the Landie was empty, and we had to scratch around for more from incidental piles found on site. Luckily we return to Winchcombe for lunch, so an opportunity to resupply.

A lunch followed of sausage and chips, rounded off with an Italian Pandoro cake, which was surprisingly good, given that it was left over from Christmas.

Newly strengthened, we attacked a pile of SHC clips found on a rotten pallet in the undergrowth. With this, the depleted stillage on the Landie was filled up again. A few sacks of 'biscuits' thrown on top completed our trawl for more supplies.

Now back to work! It was a fabulous day, but tricky to dress for. The starting temperature was only two degrees, but by lunch time the jackets were off and sun hats came out.
Note that in this picture we are on a slight curve. This was the site of the first turnout of the former Laverton loop (you can still see some parts of the turnout in the distance). Because of the double curve in this 500m stressed section, the rail had moved sideways slightly within the sleeper bed. This meant that there was a wide gap on one side for the 'biscuit', and no gap on the other side.

After 'THE PRISONER', and the 'PERSUADERS', we now give you:
(patents pending)
Yes, it's our very own bit of kit, designed to give a bar that little bit of fulcrum close to the foot of the rail, so that even a 500m rail under tension can be levered over enough to quickly push in a 'biscuit'.

This was the job of one of our gang, to go ahead and make sure that the rail was central (which it wasn't, in this 'S' curve). Just need to remember not to insert a finger in with the plastic...

Waiting for the man...

Further ahead, and now in sight of the team working south, John takes 5 while he waits for a further supply of clips. It's a lonely vigil, out here in the middle of the Laverton fields.

Looking the other way, the southern gang is furiously inserting clips, using the materials John has already laid out.

We're now some way from the stop board, which is rather satisfying. We gave ourselves an unofficial little target, which was the insulated block joint, about half way along this 500m section.

It has a little tale of its own. The IBJ is quite a long fish plate, so the sleepers have to be underneath it. In order to get the Pandrol clip in, the fishplate has a hollowed out section (here between the first and second bolts) and you make allowance for this when you lay the track and space out the sleepers.

Then, along comes a team and stresses the rail. This now moves along a bit. Darn !

The sleeper now has to be dug out again, and moved 6 inches to the right.

Here's a look at the bit we did this morning. Doesn't it look neat! Every clip is hammered home, a long, long row of them, four to a sleeper.
Another visit from the DMU, now in the distance. It's just moving off again (cough).

Although the southern gang intended to stop at the IBJ, the northern gang was so close that we pressed on and here you see the two gangs meeting, the whole stretch done! Smile, chaps! The southern 500m are now clipped up, now for the 500m north of the bridge. That's for next week.

Broadway works

For several days last week Steve, supported by a volunteer dumper driver, worked to prepare the trackbed north of the station for the first supplies of ballast here.

By Friday, the 350m stretch had had its edges dug out and tidied, and the trackbed levelled. A lot of earth and spent ballast from the edges was ferried away, inter alia to make a new approach road to the embankment at Childswickham.

The trackbed now looks quite wide. The rear half will have track ballast dropped on it straight away, while the nearer half will need a supply of type 1 to bring it up to ballast level. The different levels to be achieved are highlighted on the post in yellow and blue. Once the new ballast is in, the rail from Chldswickham will be dragged over, as well as two buffer stops.

Watch this space !


  1. Really looking good fellas!! Working with DMUs, as I did for many years as a Guard, I sympathise with you and the exaggerated cough from the exhaust. When we backed the DMSs out at Stourbridge Junction to come up the Down loop (bi-directional working), when we arrived at the station, we had lost the North end, and North signal box at that time before it was demolished in exhaust smoke. What the owners of the new houses built that little bit too close to the railway thought on a Monday washday morning is open to debate. (clean language please!!). Regards, Paul.

  2. Reminds me of a preserved railway a few years back. A small housing estate was built on the old goods yard and along the line side. A group of new residents decided that having bought their expensive houses they didn't want a dirty steam railway next door.. One day there was an ecological protest on a nearby over bridge: driver training day on the railway. A very little industrial saddle tank was 'mishandled' by a trainee driver and produced a very big, nay, nuclear mushroom sized cloud of smoke, smuts and steam, directly under the bridge. The residents emerged like the old style Robertson's jam logo character (being politically correct). The jury returned an open verdict on the intention of that one: but relations with the residents never recovered.

    1. I had to have a chuckle at your story, serves them right. I can not understand people who buy houses without researching the area first, then try to change the things that were there years before them like church bells.

    2. It brought to mind that image of a sad-faced Oliver Hardy sitting in a fireplace, covered in soot with just two white rings around his eyes! Lol.

    3. It reminds me of Henry's sneeze in the railway series.

  3. Wow fabulous views can't wait to see the ballast arrive this week.

  4. We will be able to view the online security camera to watch the progress of the ballast and track being laid, exciting times.

  5. Lots of new housing was built along the lineside at both Bewdley and Foley Park on the SVR and whilst there were originally protests (especially with whistles), those houses have only APPRECIATED in value and not the reverse, as feared. Now you would be lucky to FIND one of these houses for sale at all. And if you did, you would have to snap it up quickly before someone beat you to it!! Regards, Paul.

  6. I,don't understand people,who buy houses,next to a steam railway,and then moan about the trains,either!.On the West Somerset Railway,at Minehead,they get that,from the occupants,of the houses,next door.I'd say.Well!.the railway,was there,years before you!.So tough!. Looking forward to seeing the ballast,being laid,north of Broadway station!.

    1. Heritage railways are not alone....there was quite a shock for the locals living in the areas around RAF bases in Germany when Phantoms and Buccaneers replaced the (relatively) quiet Canberras! Great blog update as usual. Exciting times! Toddington Ted.

  7. I live near the Chiltern main line, doesn't bother us one bit, but get an occasional treat of a steam locomotive passing by. The only time we are really aware we live by a railway line is when a goods train comes by very late or very early morning, that's only if I'm awake. On the other hand while once staying near the M40 there was a constant drone from the traffic day and night, which was once a peaceful quiet village, I would hate to live there.

  8. I know what you mean, years ago at Heathrow they put up signs about aircraft and noise on a site that was to have houses built and the developers ripped them down, guess what.. the new buyers complained about the aircraft noise! Strange that eh!!!. Anyways, back to the job in hand, great work, how do you guys get such good weather? Is it due to the initials, GWR (Gods Wonderful Railway?. great work every one and also is the security camera at Broadway working so we see some live action there?
    Paul & Marion.

  9. As a pilot flying from a local airfield our biggest complainer of noise after moving into our village was an airline pilot. such hypocrisy!

  10. Blogger camera failure today, hope it works again tomorrow.
    Shifted 150T of ballast, the first into Broadway!